I read the following sentence on a website regarding rental properties in Washington:

In Washington State, if your lease is longer than 1 year a Legal Description of the property is required along with a notarized lease agreement.

What does "a legal description of the property is required" mean?

2 Answers 2


That statement goes beyond what Washington law actually says. RCW 59.18.210 states (for residential tenancies) that

Tenancies from year to year are hereby abolished except when the same are created by express written contract. Leases may be in writing or print, or partly in writing and partly in print, and shall be legal and valid for any term or period not exceeding one year, without acknowledgment, witnesses or seals

In Washington, a supposedly multi-year lease which is not notarized is converted into a month-to-month lease. This is in distinction to mobile home lot leases (RCW 59.20.050) which allow terms of more than one year. There is no requirement to attach a legal description of the property, which would be meaningless for an apartment built on a particular land parcel (hundreds of rental units may exist on a parcel with a specific legal description).

A detailed analysis of a "legal description" that is to be included in records of survey for land surveyor is set forth here by the AG, given RCW 58.09.060, who notes that it is not defined under the law, and instead

we conclude that the "legal description" required by the statute is simply that description of a tract of real property which is sufficient to meet the requirements of a valid deed of conveyance under the long-standing provisions of RCW 64.04.010; i.e.,". . . a description of land sufficiently definite to locate it without recourse to oral testimony, . . ."

citing various kinds of technical measurements that could be used to record the boundaries of real property.


What does "a legal description of the property is required" mean?

It means a set of specs of the property. The examples from the following Washington court opinions will give you an idea about what a legal description of a property entails:

Harris v. Ski Park Farms, 120 Wn.2d 727, 731 (1993)

Lloyd v. Montecucco, 924 P.2d 927, 929 (1996)

Beriault v. King, (Feb. 2009)

Popelier v. Samse, (Oct. 2015)

In the matter of Estate of Hall, (Mar. 2019)

Just look for keyword "legal description" in those court opinions.

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